Last updated: 2022 commerce trends show CX needs a reboot

2022 commerce trends show CX needs a reboot


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The pandemic killed every notion of the proverbial “back office,” and 2022 commerce trends demonstrate this – as well as the fact that CX practitioners need to rethink what customer experience is supposed to do. 

Nearly every instance of e-commerce falling to its knees in 2020 and 2021 had little or nothing to do with a broken shopping cart or an unresponsive online catalog.

Rather it had everything to do with a broken supply chain – be that shrinking inventory, choking logistics, tremendous burdens on returns management as purchases moved offline, and the like.

Chart showing sectors experiencing the most difficulty with supply chains in 2021

COVID has taught us a few things that will forever shape the future of commerce, driven by one single truth:

B2B or B2C, the customer’s intended experience is a result of a coordinated effort and visibility across the entire demand and supply chain.

This fact has been inconvenient to embrace given silos inside our organizations that are optimized for our own efficiency and org charts, and how the customer experience software stack is built and sold.

The customer – not the org chart – must be at the center of the design and user experience 

The very attributes of digital commerce that directly impact your customers’ experience sit in the nooks and crannies of your operating machinery and can be the single source of customer dissatisfaction – and ultimately churn – on the first instance of a sub-optimal experience.  

In turn, not being able to absorb and respond to both personalized demand and dynamic supply signals will result in lost opportunity to serve and transact with a customer in volume and profitability. 

Based on our unique benefit of powering almost $600 billion in GMV from our commerce software and with more than 10 billion built-in consent profiles actively used in our customer data platform, we see clear commerce trends that brands will want to push hard in 2022 and beyond.

What is absolutely indisputable is this: CX needs a reset to put the customer at the center of the design experience.

2022 commerce trends: 5 keys to future success

There are five key 2022 commerce trends that will drive customer experience and become a source of competitive advantage for those who get it right:

  1. Tech stacks will make or break how you get to market – no matter B2C or B2B
  2. Brands must move beyond one-dimensional data sets for real visibility
  3. Customer service has evolved and can tie directly to product issues, logistics, and return management 
  4. Trust matters – and part of that trust is about compliance with regard to GDPR and local privacy laws 
  5. Returns are the biggest profit destroyer for brands – a strong focus on personalization is necessary 

INFOGRAPHIC: Commerce trends 2022

2022 commerce trends infographic. The layers required to serve the customer are simple and create a customer-focused enterprise.

1.) Be first to market

2022 commerce trends show that experimentation will be the norm:

  • Manufacturers are spinning up direct-to-consumer models that will coexist with existing distribution channels
  • Retailers are baking in third-party delivery channels as the rule and not the exception, which removes them entirely from the final mile of customer experience
  • Global expansion requires maneuvering around local consent and identity laws and preferences while still delivering on top-line expectations
  • Customer service channels are becoming the fastest growing upsell/cross sell/retention channel
  • What were traditionally considered spot purchases are morphing to monthly subscriptions, requiring a complete rewiring of how we market, sell, retain, and deliver

The burning tech stack question for 2022:How well can your technology stack adapt to decisive market moves you want to make as well as be a platform for rapid business model experimentation to find new and disruptive product or geographic growth opportunities?  

2.) Visibility drives speed and accuracy

Visibility and data were the buzzwords that CX adopted. But solid visibility into any one-dimensional data set is inadequate.

To rise to what was promised with customer experience software, CX will need to to match dynamic inventory with dynamic preference. Limited or static views of inventory, of logistics and order fulfillment, or incomplete preference data results in an expensive mismatch of product and customer preference. Conversely, when done right, marketing ceases to be marketing. Rather, this new bar for personalization makes marketing actionable insight for customers and will redraw competitive landscapes. 

The burning data question for 2022:How do you leverage one comprehensive company-wide customer data set that collects not just the conveniently available public or POS preference data, but also matches dynamic data hidden across your demand and supply chains to drive profitable revenue growth and a great experience? 

3.) Service happens where the answer to the customers question resides

Customer service is evolving from a front-loaded process, managed by a few “experts” at the edge to one where the customer’s inquiry transverses your organization to find the most knowledgeable person to respond. Servicing the customer also now extends from call centers responding to product issues to reverse logistics and returns management – a new component that few CX vendors are prepared to deliver. 

The burning customer service question for 2022:How well are you organized to surface the best expertise that sits across your demand and supply chain to provide a satisfactory response that in turn generates the most optimal customer experience? In turn, how integrated can reverse logistics be into your CX tech tapestry to drive both ease of returns for the customer and accuracy of process to reduce the costs of restocking? 

4.) Compliance becomes a competitive advantage

In addition to supply chain variables that can slow you down, local privacy laws, as well as customer expectations of trust are changing constantly, requiring commerce to continuously adapt with regulation. This results in slower growth and market penetration.  

The burning compliance question for 2022:How do you turn this reality around to not only adapt fast, but turn compliance to your advantage? Does your CX tech stack come, out-of-the-box, with consent, identity, and GDPR built in, enabling you to move accurately and super fast into regulated markets to capture market share before the competition?  

5.) The war will be won in the margins

Since 2020, we’ve seen a nearly 30% jump in e-commerce, which has been fantastic for the top line. What’s not talked about is that we also saw a whopping 15-40% increase in returns

Returns has become every retailer’s margin nightmare. Repeat purchases have also plummeted, resulting in unsustainable CAC (customer acquisition costs) that can’t be spread across the needed order volume threshold. As a result, the highest volume business might not end up remaining in business after all.

The burning personalization question for 2022:Personalization needs to step up, big time. It needs to grow up to embrace not just preferences that improve the likelihood of ordering, but ordering the right goods. This is a significant upgrade that involves running machine-learning technology on historical as well as forward-looking preferences to get frighteningly accurate on customer relevancy. 

The center is the customer, and it must hold for future success. CX plays a massive role in making that possible. 

The fundamental design and narrative flaw that the pandemic exposed is a vendor and pundit focused delineation between front office and back office.

There is only one “office” that powers the value chain, and the customer experience is at the dead center.

Instead of thinking about what’s in the back and what’s in front, the pandemic put into sharp focus where the center of gravity lies – and must lie – in your organization to deliver the needed customer experience, and how your tech stack can rally around solving for that chosen center of gravity.

After considering 2022 commerce trends, this much is clear: Post pandemic, there is no back office. From the customer viewpoint, the insights hidden in your supply chain, your manufacturing ecosystem, your enterprise resource planning infrastructure, and everything in between, IS the front office. 

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